Bali’s Wellness Tourism: A Path to Recovery and Growth

Locally-sourced food and wellness experiences are driving Bali’s tourism industry as it seeks to rebound from the pandemic.

Bali, known as the Isle of the Gods, has long been a popular tourist destination, attracting young partygoers, families seeking affordable beach vacations, and wellness enthusiasts. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has severely impacted the island’s tourism industry, with foreign tourist arrivals falling by 16% between January and October 2022 compared to pre-pandemic levels. As Bali looks to recover, it is turning to wellness and new experiences as a potential springboard for growth. One restaurant in Ubud, Locavore, is leading the way by offering sustainable dining experiences centered around locally-sourced ingredients.

Locavore: Foraging for Flavors

Locavore, located in Ubud, is inspired by Denmark’s renowned Noma restaurant, known for its use of hyperlocal ingredients. Locavore follows a similar philosophy, sourcing its food from Bali’s jungles, coastlines, and mountains. From daun kelor, a green leaf used in soups and salads, to clovers that taste like citrus and the cemcem leaf with a green mango flavor, Locavore showcases the diverse flavors of Bali. Foraging is a way of life in Bali, and Locavore exemplifies the island’s commitment to utilizing local resources.

Bali’s Wellness Tourism Ambitions

Bali aims to tap into the global wellness tourism market, which was valued at approximately US$650 billion in 2022. Ubud, already recognized as a top wellness and eco-tourism destination in Southeast Asia, offers visitors a range of activities, including yoga classes, nature hikes, vegan restaurants, and spa treatments. The United Nations World Tourism Organization recently hailed Ubud for its sustainable gastronomy tourism, further cementing its reputation as a global hub for wellness experiences.

The Influence of “Eat, Pray, Love”

The popularity of wellness and food experiences in Bali has been on the rise since the release of the 2010 Hollywood movie “Eat, Pray, Love,” starring Julia Roberts. The film inspired a new generation of tourists to visit the island, seeking spiritual and wellness journeys. As a result, Bali’s food and wellness sectors have gained increasing importance, attracting young and well-heeled visitors who are willing to spend more on unique experiences.

Expanding into the Luxury Market

Locavore, recognizing the growing demand for wellness experiences, is targeting the luxury end of the market. The restaurant is set to open a new building designed to resemble a plant-covered mountain, complete with a roof garden, an underground mushroom room, and a special fermenting chamber. This expansion would not have been possible a decade ago, but evolving tourist tastes and interests have made it viable.

Adapting to the Local Environment

Other players in Bali’s food and beverage industry have also embraced the island’s unique characteristics to create distinct dining concepts. Gioia Cheese, for example, produces Italian cheeses that incorporate Balinese milk, climate, and bacteria, resulting in a distinct flavor profile. This approach highlights the fusion of local and international influences, catering to the evolving tastes of Bali’s visitors.


As Bali seeks to recover from the impact of the pandemic on its tourism industry, wellness and new experiences are emerging as key drivers of growth. Locavore’s sustainable dining concept, inspired by Denmark’s Noma, showcases the island’s rich natural resources and flavors. Bali’s focus on wellness tourism, recognized by the United Nations World Tourism Organization, positions it as a global hub for sustainable gastronomy tourism. With its stunning natural beauty, cultural traditions, and growing infrastructure, Bali is well-positioned to attract tourists seeking wellness and unique culinary experiences. The island’s ability to adapt to evolving visitor preferences and tap into the global wellness market bodes well for its recovery and future growth.

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